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Archive for January, 2011

Two holy meals in one day

Yesterday was a perfect example of why I love my job so much.  I got to experience not one but TWO holy meals with my church family.  Each one was unique and different, and yet each one reminded me of how God’s presence can move in and among us in very special ways.

The second of the meals took place in the late afternoon – communion with our Confirmands and Mentors.  Every January our church begins a four-month journey with our young people who’ve made a decision to accept Christ into their life and become members of the church.  They are accompanied by a caring adult who covenants to journey alongside them, growing and learning with them.  We were meeting as a group to talk about the sacraments in the church, and we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together.  In some respects it was nothing special – we were dressed in our jeans; I was serving bread and Welch’s grape juice I bought from Lowe’s Foods just a couple hours earlier.  But that’s the whole point – the meal wasn’t holy because of anything we did.  It was holy because of the One who joined us.

That same One was also present a few hours earlier at our annual church-wide Chili lunch.  Over a dozen fine folks fixed various pots of chili ranging across the spice spectrum.  The place was packed.  And while the chili was excellent, I don’t think the food is what brought everyone there.  I believe what led those people to fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ was the strong sense of community that exists when we as First Presbyterian Church gather around the table together.  You could see it as you looked around the room – people conversing and laughing and listening; engaging in the simple sacramental act of being present with one another in the presence of Christ.  And again, it wasn’t because of anything special we had done.  It was God who made the meal holy.

Here’s to many more holy meals together!

Steve

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At the congregational meeting this past Sunday, John Mills, moderator of the Worship & Music ministry team, shared a summary of the congregational music study. You will recall that this study took place last October and November as our church transitions into new leadership in our music ministry. The information from this study played a direct role in informing the Worship & Music and Personnel teams as they created new job descriptions, and is currently guiding the search committee as they move forward in their search.

A copy of this summary can be found below. As you read over it, please remember that the survey reflects YOUR voice, not the voice of the pastor, a ministry team or the search committee. We greatly appreciate the 30 randomly selected members of the church and the choir for participating in the phone survey, as well as the 100 who came to the luncheon on Nov. 7th to participate in small group discussions with Rev. Steve McCutchan.

The Music Ministry Search Committee is in full-swing and is currently receiving applications for Director of Music and Church Organist. These positions can be filled by either one or two people. All members of the congregation are encouraged to share the names of qualified individuals with members of the search committee: John Mills, Heather Hatcher, Lee Daniels, John Merritt, Frank Mayberry, Anna Bush, Felton Godwin, Tom McCluskey and Steve Lindsley (ex-officio).

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A SUMMARY OF THE CONGREGATIONAL MUSIC STUDY

In October and November 2010, a congregational study was carried out to help the church determine our vision for the church’s music ministry. This study consisted of two phases. The first phase was phone surveys with 30 randomly-selected church members and all current choir members, centering around five core questions. The second phase was a church-wide event after worship that included lunch and small-group discussions on the same five questions, facilitated by members of the Personnel/Worship & Music ministry teams.

The following is a brief synopsis of the “broad strokes” of what the study found.

PURPOSE AND THEOLOGY OF CHURCH MUSIC

  • The purpose of music in the church should be, first and foremost, to glorify God and inspire people in their daily walk with Christ.
  • Whatever style of music is used in worship, it should be “reverent” and focus on praising God.
  • Music in worship should be energetic and heart-felt and seek to lift people to a fuller sense of the presence of God in their lives.
  • Music in worship should not be viewed as “entertainment” or a “performance.”

MUSICAL STYLE IN WORSHIP

  • Across all ages, there is a desire to see our church continue rooting itself in the “traditional” style of worship music.
  • At the same time, there is a desire across all ages to experience some level of musical variety of worship music. This may come in the form of new hymns/songs or new arrangements of familiar traditional hymns, different instruments, etc.
  • While change is welcome by the vast majority of those surveyed, this change should not fundamentally alter the Reformed style of worship that our church enjoys every Sunday, nor the space where worship takes place.
  • This desire for “rooting in traditional/open to variety” should be fully supported and implemented by the music leadership of the church.

LEADERSHIP

  • Music leadership is valued in our church and needs to support wholeheartedly the church’s musical vision.
  • Music leadership should embody “shared ministry,” listening to and incorporating input from the choir and the congregation.
  • Music leadership should work with all facets of church life and ministries, and enable those involved in the music ministry to do the same.
  • While always being welcome to all interested persons, music leadership should actively seek to incorporate the musical talents of church members as singers and instrumentalists without showcasing select individuals.

OTHER THOUGHTS

  • The desire to see a comprehensive children’s and/or youth choir was strongly supported.
  • The church would like to see the chancel choir continue leading congregational singing in music during the summer in some form – not necessarily the full choir but perhaps some kind of a “small team rotation.

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Our New Facebook page!

If you’re on Facebook, you’ll want to make sure to join our brand new Facebook page!  You can do so by clicking the image below.

This Page is different from our Facebook group, which we’ve had for a number of years.  That group was created back when Facebook groups interacted quite well in the Facebook platform.  However, in recent years Facebook has minimized the importance of groups significantly.  So we are asking all of our Facebook group members to join the Page.  We will eventually phase the group out completely.

On our new Facebook page you’ll be able to see the latest news from the church (event reminders, schedule changes, etc).  You’ll also find weekly sermon and worship service posts, as well as a daily devotional and other links.  Pages are very interactive as well, so you can share weblinks you think would be of interest to others.  All of these, of course, will show up in the live feed on your Home page.

This would be a great time to let your Facebook friends know about your church!  After you click the “LIKE” button at the top of the page, scroll down to the very bottom left and you’ll see a “SHARE” button.  Clicking this button will allow you to post a link to your wall for everyone to see.

Thanks and welcome to our Facebook page!

First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy, NC | Promote Your Page Too

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Meet Jeff Eads and Chris Engel!

If you were in church this past Sunday, you were introduced to the newest members of our church’s staff.  Here’s a little more about them:

Jeff Eads is our interim Director of Music.  While his experience is mostly as an accompanist, Jeff has conducted a number of church choirs over the years.  Jeff brings to FPCMA a strong passion for music and the music ministry of the church, and a desire to see everyone work together to “make a joyful noise to the Lord.”  Jeff’ works for CenterPoint Human Services in Winston-Salem.  He lives in Mount Airy with his wife and three children and enjoys running and biking.

Chris Engel, our interim organist, is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, studying organ under Dr. Timothy Olsen.  Originally from Ocean City, MD, Chris also plays piano and guitar and claims experience as a classical pianist, a church organist, a singer in many choirs, a jazz keyboardist, and a rock musician. Non-musically, Chris is also a black belt in martial arts.

Please make a point of introducing yourselves to Jeff and Chris over the next few weeks and welcome them to our church family!

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Answering the Call in 2011

As we enjoy the first snow of the new year and ponder what wonderful things God will do in our church in 2011, we also should ask ourselves: how will we serve God and serve the church?  There are a number of ongoing opportunities in the life of our congregation for your prayerful consideration:

SPARK Ministry – the responsibility of raising our children in the Christian faith falls to all of us, not just our children’s parents.  SPARK takes place during worship immediately following the Children’s Time.  It only involves a three-week commitment, which makes it the perfect opportunity for seasoned teachers as well as those who have never taught before.  Shasta and Lisa Dodd, moderator of the Christian Education ministry team, are happy to tell you more about SPARK.

Friends Feeding Friends – For a number of years we’ve been honored to partner with First Baptist Church to serve meals for the homeless on the first Thursday of each month.  It’s a minimal time commitment (5-7pm), but the impact this ministry has on the people who are served – and on you – can be life-changing.  If you have any questions about FFF, please contact Bill Rountree.

Church Recycling – In 2008 our church made a commitment to recycle all paper, plastic, cardboard and magazines generated in the facility.  Even a congregation our size generates quite a lot of trash – so recycling keeps these items out of our landfill.  Twice a month the recycling is collected by church members and taken to the local recycling center.  Will you be one of those members?  Randy Surratt, moderator of the Green Ministry Team, can answer all your questions.

Scripture Readers – Every Sunday, a member of the church reads the scriptures that Steve then preaches on. It’s a very simple way to involve lay leadership in worship and to proclaim God’s word!  Steve provides you with the scriptures prior to Sunday and can answer any questions you might have.

Flowers in the Sanctuary – The flowers on display in worship service every Sunday are not only beautiful; they are also placed there either in honor or memory of someone special to the church.  If you would like to learn more about flowers in church, please contact Lynn Rigney at the church office.

SIGN-UP LISTS FOR ALL OF THESE OPPORTUNITIES ARE LOCATED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS OUTSIDE THE SANCTUARY.  Next time you’re there please take a moment to look over the lists and consider anew where God may be calling you to serve.  Let’s answer the call in the new year!

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